Book Review: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

December 3, 2012 book review, crime, friendship, Harper Collins, southern lit, Tom Franklin 5

Written by:  Tom Franklin

Published by:  William Morrow (Imprint of Harper Collins) October 2010

Pages: 274 pages

Source:  Purchased for Nook

Larry Ott has lived his entire life in the same house, in the same small town in Mississippi.  A quiet, introspective, studious young man, he doesn’t have any real friends.  He is not exactly the son his father had hoped for.  Carl Ott was more of what people might call a man’s man, he liked guns and hunting, and he ran an auto repair shop, aptly name Ottomotive Repair.  Larry lives alone with his parents, an only child.  While in high school a neighbor and friend of Larry’s, Cindy Walker, goes missing.  Last seen leaving for a drive in movie date with Larry he is blamed for her disappearance.  When he tells his story, no one believes him…they never do.  Larry basically drops out of sight, finishing high school at home, joining the military and trying to do all he can to not be “Scary Larry”, the nickname he hates.  Twenty fives years later another young girl goes missing…..and the focus is on Larry again.

Silas Jones is the local constable, or police officer in Chabot Mississipppi.  Everyone calls him 32, his baseball number.  Once a star who also went to college to play ball he is local legend.  Silas was once new in his small town.  He lived in an old hunting cabin with his mother, living on her meager wages and knowing no one.  He and Larry Ott became friends, an odd and unexpected, and short lived friendship.  Larry white, and Silas black, in a still racially divided south, an unlikely friendship indeed.  Now twenty fives years later Silas is trying to uncover what has happened to Larry in all these years.  Is he involved in the missing girl case?  What Silas discovers is so much deeper than just this case, he learns much more about Larry than he ever expected. 

This book has been on my radar and my “To Be Read” list for a long time, since it’s 2010 publication I’m guessing.  I’m thankful I got around to reading it!!  This book has so much, the story of friendship, coming of age, mystery, southern literature and characters I loved.  Based on my synopsis it may be hard to see but I loved both Larry and Silas, flawed and sensitive they were both hurting in many ways. 

The mob mentality of claiming a person guilty on circumstantial evidence, was all over the place in Chabot.  Small towns tend to do this.  I read that the characters in Franklin’s book were compared to To Kill a Mockingbird, and certainly the unknown, misunderstood Larry bore resemblance to Boo Radley.  Real evil and fear is often not in the places we imagine.   There were characters of poverty and hard drinking in the book too. 

I really enjoyed this book, giving it a 4 out of 5 stars.  I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a story of suspicion and complicated families and friends.  This is the first book I’ve read by Tom Franklin, but I intend to check out his back list. 

5 Responses to “Book Review: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter”

  1. Sandy Nawrot

    I absolutely loved this book, and on audio, narrated by Kevin Kenerly, it was unforgettable. Our book club (the other one) read it and just about everyone loved it. We also had the author call in and he is such a wonderful, charming man. I think right now he is working on a book co-wrote by his wife.

  2. Zibilee

    This was such a great book, and one that I found unforgettable. I loved the atmosphere, and the sense of blind accusation that was all turned around by the end. I am so glad that you got the chance to read this one and that it turned out to be such a wonderful story for you. It was for me too.

  3. Jenners

    This was interesting, wasn’t it? I loved how so many assumptions are made about everyone and how wrong they prove to be.

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